Liz Witherell

I donated blood today. I’m one of those people who doesn’t shudder at the thought of needles piercing my skin, or get queasy as I watch the blood drain from my vein into the collection bag. It’s no big deal. I eat the cookies and drink the juice afterwards, and I kind of enjoy talking with the elderly volunteers.

I think I’m lucky. I know so many people who are sickened by the sight of blood, afraid of needles and terrified at the thought of pain.

Several years ago, a nurse-practitioner friend convinced me to volunteer a few hours a week at a free dental clinic. I took health histories and blood pressures. By the time people came to us, their teeth were generally beyond saving. Their mouths were infected, their gums were inflamed, and they often had other conditions, such as diabetes and heart disease. But still they’d put off coming to the clinic as long as possible, because they were afraid it would hurt.

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